Jamaica 50Since it’s release last week Friday (June 15) with an apparently unofficial tag as the ‘official Jamaica 50 song’, the ‘On A Mission’ song featuring Shaggy, Assassin, Beres Hammond, Tarrus Riley, Damian Marley, Romaine Virgo, Chevelle Franklin, Wayne Marshall, Tifa and Tessanne Chin has been the source of much controversy, heated discussion and public debate, both online and offline. Below we’ve detailed the Ministry Of Youth & Culture’s official press release and response to the ongoing controversy, where they highlight that ‘On A Mission’ was always intended to be the ‘marketing campaign song’, not the official Jamaica 50 song.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Earlier this year the Jamaica 50 Secretariat invited Mr. Orville “Shaggy” Burrell to undertake a collaboration with other artistes to produce a song specifically for the Integrated Marketing Campaign of Jamaica 50.

The Marketing Campaign Song is required specifically to support the “Nation on a Mission” message being conveyed locally and internationally by the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 Project that was approved by Cabinet and presented to the public after January this year. The “On a Mission” song produced by Shaggy is on point and in sync with the messages being conveyed by the Jamaica 50 marketing programme in Jamaica and overseas. For several weeks the song has been driving the ongoing advertising campaign for Jamaica 50.

This Marketing Campaign song was never intended to be, nor is it considered by the Jamaica 50 Secretariat to be The Official Jamaica 50 Celebrations Song. The Jamaica 50 Secretariat recognized that the Minister with responsibility for Culture in the previous administration had announced another song, commissioned by the former Administration and produced by Mr. Michael Bennett, as the official Jamaica 50 Celebrations Song.

It is the view of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat that in this 50th anniversary year all talented Jamaican artistes should be able to feel that their creative work has an equal opportunity to be a part of the national celebrations. As such, the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 Project approved by the Government does not include any one song as the official Jamaica 50 celebrations song.

The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna has met with the Opposition Spokesperson on Culture, Ms. Olivia Grange presented to her the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 Programme and frankly, openly and honestly discussed the Jamaica 50 programme including the status of the Michael Bennett-produced song. It was decided that the Michael Bennett-produced song, which was also a collaboration involving several artistes, would be used as part of the Jamaica 50 Celebrations wherever appropriate.

This week Minister Hanna spoke with Mr. Bennett and wrote to him pointing out the decision arrived at and informed him that given the strong emotive and patriotic value of the song, one suitable activity for which the song would be used is in the upcoming campaign to have workplaces promote the wearing of gold or yellow shirts on Fridays as part of the Jamaica 50 celebrations. The Michael Bennett-produced song will also be featured again as part of the launch of the One Million Pins Initiative set to coincide with the National Athletics Trials.

Many songs have been submitted by various artistes to the Jamaica 50 Secretariat and the Secretariat has been discussing the best way for the public to have a say in which songs they think are suitable to be recognised as part of the Jamaica 50 Celebrations. It is our view that one positive that the present discussions about a song for Jamaica 50 has accomplished, is that the Jamaica 50 Secretariat will now fast-track its determination on a public participation process involving social and other media, that will possibly lead to a Jamaica 50 endorsed musical compilation. The Jamaica 50 Secretariat’s social media team is now working on a possible design of such a campaign and discussions have been initiated with a major telecoms provider on a texting platform to enable such a public participation initiative.

In all of this it should be recalled that the Jamaica Festival Song Competition organised annually by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission has been the institutional vehicle through which a national commemorative song officially associated with the Independence celebrations in any year, is selected. There is the expectation that given the special significance of Jamaica 50, the Festival song selected by the JCDC this year will be accepted and enjoyed by the public in the spirit of the national celebrations.

It is unfortunate and regrettable that the promotional agency for the producer of the “On a Mission” marketing campaign song and a corporate sponsor of Jamaica 50, as part of the sponsor’s undertaking to promote the song, incorrectly branded a released CD and associated printed materials with the declaration of the “On a Mission” marketing campaign song as the Official Jamaica 50 Song, without the required vetting or approval of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat. The Secretariat has been in communication with the corporate sponsor on the matter and a meeting is being arranged with a view to correcting this situation and streamlining the communication, vetting and approval process going forward.

Recognising its responsibility in the matter, the Jamaica 50 Secretariat will be instituting additional systems to improve and sharpen the vetting process for marketing and promotional activities and materials by our many values corporate partners and other stakeholders, who are all an integral part of the Jamaica 50 Project.

It is unfortunate that so much time has been devoted to a debate about a song for Jamaica 50 rather than about the real significance the Jamaica 50 milestone in the life the nation. Going forward the Jamaica 50 Secretariat and the Ministry of Youth and Culture will be focused on informing the public about the celebratory and legacy elements of Jamaica 50 and encouraging all Jamaicans to get involved.

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